Prescott, Arizona 86301
Watson Lake and Riparian Preserve webpage
Watson Lake and Riparian Preserve brochure
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Tips for birding Watson Lake and Riparian Preserve
Watson Lake often has fewer birds than Willow Lake, but deep channels offer habitat for different species. Kayaks are cheap to rent from Watson Lake Park and offer the opportunity to get much closer to the birds. Shallow water on the south end of the lake, viewable from a parking area along Hwy 89, holds large numbers of ducks, waders, and shorebirds. Look especially for Wood Ducks on exposed snags, most common in summer but present year-round.
Restoration work here has resulted in a beautiful cottonwood-willow oasis among Prescott’s sprawl. Most of the typical riparian breeding birds of the area are here, such as Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Lucy’s Warbler. A diverse array of migrants may be found. Hike down the creek bed or along the Peavine Trail for a good overlook of upper Watson Lake.
From Northern Arizona Audubon Society
About Watson Lake and Riparian Preserve
Several miles northeast of downtown Prescott, Arizona there is a rare and threatened forest type and it is being protected and restored by Prescott Creeks members and community volunteers!
The 126-acre Watson Woods Riparian Preserve is the remaining portion of what was once a 1,000-acre riparian (streamside) forest of cottonwood and willow trees. Following trends around the southwestern United States, the riparian habitat at Watson Woods had been lost or severely degraded as a result of decades of livestock grazing, illegal dumping, firewood cutting, and most notably, sand and gravel extraction during the mid-20th century. In spite of long term abuses to this area, it has been healing itself. Over the past 40 years most of the vegetation and wildlife now found at Watson Woods has returned on its own. Cottonwoods and willows that create a cathedral-like atmosphere over Granite Creek and the edge of a perennial pond provide habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Since establishment of the Preserve in 1995, the City of Prescott has grown to the north and east, and Watson Woods Riparian Preserve has become a sort of oasis for wildlife and humans alike.
From Watson Lake and Riparian Preserve webpage